It would seem that the world is awash with entrepreneurship education, both inside and outside of the curricula. A haze of hype and excitement has descended onto our campuses globally, attracting students like a moth to a flame. The latest Student Success Framework addition, Enterprise and Entrepreneurship Education promises to restore some balance to this exciting space to those that matter most, the students and their educators.
The entrepreneurial imperative
Becoming entrepreneurial is increasingly argued to be a virtue that all citizens should be capable of in a fast changing world where the unexpected often replaces the familiar. It begs the question of just how does one become more entrepreneurial? Is it through immersion in an array of intoxicating events and moments of brief applause? Or, might it more logically be by way of developing; 1) awareness of the value of enterprise and entrepreneurship, 2) specific belief systems, 3) the skills and competencies for being enterprising and entrepreneurial, and 4) deep personal engagement in value creation activities? Just as the oceans visible and seemingly powerful are dwarfed by the comparative power and impact of the oceans’ tides, so it is when a calendar of events is compared to good scholarship in this field of education.
Relations that matter
The Enterprise and Entrepreneurship Education framework draws attention to the essential dialogic relations that exist between student learning outcomes and good scholarly practice. Highlighting the unique learning ‘about’, ‘for’ and ‘through’ pedagogical approach that characterizes contemporary enterprise and entrepreneurship education, serves to emphasis the experiential learning foundations of enterprise and entrepreneurship education. Student development is dependent on the quality of scholarly leading (also referred to as academagogy) that is required to; 1) recognise individual learning needs, 2) negotiate learning activities and related assessment process, 3) cultivate the capability for critical reflection, so that the deep learning required for competence development and post experience sense-making is possible. Alternatively, the scholarly practice required to support such transformative learning outcomes comes from years of experience honing one’s ability to support authentic learning ‘about’, ‘for’ and ‘through’ enterprise and entrepreneurship. It is in around this interplay between educator and student development that the Enterprise and Entrepreneurship Education framework makes a timely contribution to supporting the scholarship of learning and teaching in enterprise and entrepreneurship education. Before exploring the nature of this contribution, it is important to consider the distinction made between enterprise and entrepreneurship education in the framework.
The definition that matters
Drawing on the QAA (2018) Guidance for UK Higher Education Providers document, enterprise education explicitly enables the development of skills and competences for creativity, idea generation, design thinking, problem solving and practical action. Conversely, entrepreneurship education creates space for the application of those skills and competencies associated with value creation, thereby further enhancing the development of the enterprising mindset and related competencies. This distinction matters because it places education before application, even though it must be acknowledged that both approaches are typically interrelated.
Going backwards to go forwards
For any educator active in this space, developing the required scholarship to support learners to be entrepreneurial most likely means returning to the classics of Dewey, Lindeman, Rogers, Vygotsky, Piaget, Erikson to ensure a well-developed understanding of how the contemporary ideas of Mezirow, Kegan, Barnett, Brookfield, Cranton, Sweller and Hase & Kenyon unpin the mechanics of developing the capabilities required for enterprise and entrepreneurship.
Towards scholarly recognition
The Enterprise and Entrepreneurship Education framework provides a neat connection to the process of gaining recognition at different Advance HE Fellowship categories. An important element of developing scholarship is the presentation (or sharing) of one’s practice. The dial at the center of the Enterprise and Entrepreneurship Education framework provides all of the necessary focus areas to connect directly to the Areas of Activity in the Professional Standards Framework, hinting at the required Core Knowledge and drawing our attention to the Professional Values central to advancing a truly student-centered approach to enterprise and entrepreneurship education.
Strength in numbers
Perhaps the most pleasing aspect of the Enterprise and Entrepreneurship Education framework is the continuity it extends to the past work and ongoing collaborations between several key players in this space. Past and current thinking from groups such as EEUK, IOEE, ISBE, SFEDI and the QAA are visible in the framework. This new Student Success Framework therefore sends a strong message that we are all rowing in the one direction.
This framework creates many opportunities for various stakeholders associated with enterprise and entrepreneurship education, a field that often struggles for legitimacy. First, the framework offers educators the ability to audit their approach, asking to what extent they are sufficiently engaged deep enough (in terms of scholarship) to ensure the development of the noted student capabilities is possible. Second, the framework is a very useful map for students to help them understand the nature and structure of enterprise and entrepreneurship education. Third, the framework offers an excellent document to educate colleagues and other institutional leaders about what is appropriate scholarship in enterprise and entrepreneurship education. Finally, the framework has the potential to suppress the unhelpful hype that descends on our educational environs, hopefully informing policy-makers and event managers of the hard yards that need to be made before the party can start.
Colin Jones is a Principal Fellow of Advance HE, a Visiting Professor of Entrepreneurship at the University of Wales, Trinity Saint David, and a Senior Lecturer at the Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane, Australia. You can listen to Colin’s podcast show, The Reasonable Adventurer here.
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